Before dismissing this idea with sarcastic laughter or a cynical comment give this idea some thought. And for the sake of argument, forget about the fact that she lost her Shreveport City Judgeship in 2008 over allegations of substance abuse. An objective examination of this candidate just may convince many that LaLeshia Walker-Alford is the best qualified of all those declared and rumored (including James Stewart) to enter the election for Caddo District Attorney.
Alford is a life-long Shreveport resident who graduated with honors from Notre Dame High School. She obtained a music degree from Texas Woman’s University. She then worked as a music therapist in Caddo schools and at Pine Crest State School. She attended Tulane Law School on a full academic scholarship awarded by Senator Greg Tarver, graduating in 1988.
Alford worked in the Caddo D.A. office for 5 years before being elected to a Shreveport City judgeship. She served 10 years on the bench and during her tenure she implemented several programs to reduce recidivism and to increase literacy training which included requiring probationers to get and use a public library card, to obtain employment and to register to vote. After leaving the bench she had a private practice of law and in 2103 she became a staff attorney for the Caddo Public Defender representing felony drug offenders.
Alford’s professional experience is unparalleled in the legal community-private practice, assistant district attorney, city judge and now indigent defender. Like all candidates she has “baggage”-and it is a matter of conjecture just how much her removal from the city court bench by the Louisiana Supreme Court will impact her candidacy. Alford acknowledges that she had a health challenge and she proudly says that she has completely recovered after seeking professional assistance, which has made her a stronger person today.
Alford says she will not run on a campaign of trying to be the first African-American woman D.A. in Caddo—or for that matter a campaign based on racial identity. She proudly proclaims that she is a mother and an American first. She is very concerned about Louisiana’s incarceration rate that costs in excess of $30,000 year to imprison non-violent offenders and that more public dollars are spent on prisons and prisoners that on police officers, teachers, and firemen. At the same time she is concerned about the impact of hardened criminals on the social fabric of neighborhoods, and especially senior citizens who are often afraid to leave their homes.
Alford could very well parlay her recovery from the health challenge that lost her the city judge black rob into a campaign positive; Americans love to forgive people who have faced their shortcomings and dealt with them in successful ways. Without a doubt she could be an attractive candidate to advocacy groups like M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and CADA (Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction.) And being the only female candidate (at this point) for the D.A. job will certainly separate her from the other candidates; her sex could be a persuasive factor for female voters who constitute a voter majority. (Think Ollie Tyler.)
Alford is an accomplished pianist who is just at home playing for a church congregation as she is in the courtroom. She is concerned about victims of domestic violence, citizens caught in gang crossfire, and children being sold into the sex trade. Her campaign will be one based on building a better community for all Caddo citizens and she promises that she can be both tough on crime and fair to the accused. Alford acknowledges that she has a big uphill fight and that she starts off as the heavy underdog in the DA race. None the less, she believes the hard work, fortitude and persistence that has been her life journey can be identified by voters throughout the parish who are looking for a new direction and positive leadership in the Caddo District Attorney Office.
Without a doubt the upcoming DA race in Caddo Parish will provide voters with the most diverse field of candidates for the office – – or for that matter any elected office – – in Northwest Louisiana in recent history. How Alford’s opponents manage their campaigns, and especially comments about her removal from the bench, will be interesting to follow. If past history is to provide any lesson, efforts to publicize the homicide of Ollie Tyler’s first husband totally backfired. Much like Tyler, Alford has rehabilitated herself and has participated in meaningful ways in society since this incident. In a true democracy, all candidates should be welcomed to run for political office, and especially Alford who has paid her “dues” to society.